Metro Atlanta Arts Fund awards a needed $500,000

By Maria Saporta

The message from Atlanta’s art community could be: “We will survive.”

The Metropolitan Atlanta Arts Fund, at its annual lunch at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center on Wednesday, announced its second round of grants for the year.

By giving grants twice a year, the fund has ramped up its giving to small- and mid-sized arts organizations because it recognizes that many arts and cultural groups are in a precarious position because of the economy.

“This economy has altered the way people go out, how they get there, how they get information….,” said Lisa Cremin, director of the Metropolitan Atlanta Arts Fund, which is part of the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta. “It’s terrifying, exhausting, stimulating.”

Cremin added that the sustainability of several arts organizations is questionable.

That’s why the fund launched the $2.5 million Atlanta Arts Recovery initiative, which permitted the fund to give out a total of $1 million in unrestricted grants this year, including the $500,000 that was announced on Wednesday.

The fund, which works with arts organizations in the 23-county metro area, spread the following message at the lunch: “Come Together. Look Ahead.”

As a way to encourage greater collaboration among arts organizations, the fund tried to match-make different groups so they could learn from each other and try new approaches to old or new problems.

The following arts groups received grants at Wednesday’s lunch:

· Atlanta Contemporary Art Center: $50,000;

· Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus: $30,000

· Atlanta Sacred Chorale: $8,000;

· Atlanta Shakespeare Co.: $65,000;

· Cobb symphony Orchestra: $50,000;

· Georgia Ballet: $75,000;

· Horizon Theatre Co.: $75,000

· Johns Creek Arts Center: $10,000;

· Michael O’Neal Singers: $17,000;

· MOCA – Georgia: $65,000;

· Out of Hand Theater: $15,000; and

· Spruill Center for the Arts: $40,000;

The Arts Fund was established in 1993 by the Metro Atlanta Chamber and the Coca-Cola Co. as a way to provide support to Atlanta’s smaller arts organizations. It has awarded more than $7 million in grants and management consulting awards to 85 arts organizations.

As for its $2.5 million Atlanta Arts Recovery Initiative, it has raised $2.1 million towards that effort.

The lunch Wednesday also marked a passing in volunteer leadership of the organization. Carol Tomé, Home Depot’s chief financial officer, stepped down as chair of the Arts Fund Advisory Fund. Bahnson Stanley, a partner with the Ellis, McQuary & Stanley private equity firm, is the incoming board chair.

“Four years was long enough,” Tomé said of her tenure as chair.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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